SuperTooth HD Review
Price: $129.00 USD
As a commuter with a fairly long drive to work each day, I often find myself in situations where I need to use my iPhone while driving. Aside from the fact that using a cell phone while driving can be dangerous, it is also illegal to do so in New York State. Utilizing a Bluetooth handset and going hands-free is the only safe and legal option for motorists needing to use their cellular devices in my area of the country.
I’m not a big fan of in-ear Bluetooth devices. I find them uncomfortable and distracting, and that’s not a situation I want myself in while driving. The SuperTooth HD speaker phone seems to fix that dilemma with its visor-mounted handsfree system.
The SuperTooth HD is a sleek and elegant looking Bluetooth speaker phone that has smooth lines and a well designed layout of buttons. One particularly nice feature is the backlight that adjusts itself to ambient light levels. This is a real plus for night drivers who don’t wish to be distracted by bright lights.
Setting up and pairing the SuperTooth HD with your cellular phone is relatively simple. The initial connection process goes smoothly and a simulated voice tells you that you are connected. I’m not sure if this is an issue with the iPhone 4 or with the SuperTooth HD, but when driving to work, I often find the SuperTooth HD losing its connection with my iPhone on average once every ten minutes.
Even though the SuperTooth HD touts a 10-meter operating range, I find the dropped calls very annoying, especially since I like to listen to podcasts through my car’s speakers via an auxiliary audio cable connection while driving. When the Bluetooth connection is lost, I have to go into the iPod app on my iPhone to tell the iPhone to send the audio out through the headphone jack instead of through the SuperTooth HD itself. This presents a potentially dangerous driving situation, which is exactly what using this hands-free device is supposed to prevent.
The life of the lithium-ion battery of the SuperTooth HD is commendable. With twenty hours of talk time and nearly one thousand hours of standby time, I can easily leave the unit on and go several weeks before it needs recharging. Recharging can be done through the supplied 12-volt USB cable that connects to either your auto’s power source or a powered USB port on your computer. The cable connects to the SuperTooth HD via a Micro-USB port on the right side of the unit.
The volume of the twin V-Array speakers and the sensitivity of the noise-canceling microphone are quite good. The speakers have 5-watts of audio output and benefit from a 5.4-watt class D amplifier. Twin microphones located at each end of the unit help improve call quality immensely. Because the noise canceller microphone does a great job of eliminating road and wind noise, I have no trouble hearing callers and have had no issues with callers not understanding what I’m saying, even while driving at highway speeds. Granted, I live in a medium-sized college town with only moderate traffic, but I can even carry out a conversation with the windows down amidst downtown traffic.
One of the big selling points with the SuperTooth HD is its ability to utilize voice commands to make phone calls. It recognizes six languages, including British English, French, Spanish, Italian, American English, and German. Additionally, you can also subscribe to SuperTooth’s Handsfree Assistant social network via a dedicated button to send e-mails, SMS messages, and to post messages to Twitter or Facebook, merely by speaking the message into the SuperTooth HD. I’m not sure that even is particularly safe to do while driving, but the SuperTooth HD allows you to do so if you’re so inclined. You can register for the Handsfree Assistant online and receive six months of free service.
The various voice commands that are recognized by the SuperTooth HD include “Check Battery,” “Am I Connected?,” “What Can I Say?,” “Voice Dial,” “Redial Last Number,” “Call Home,” “Call Office,” “Call Voice Mail,” “Call Emergency,” “Call Contact 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5,” “Cancel,” “Answer,” “Reject,” and “Ignore.” This is a long enough list that needing a cheat sheet might be necessary, but using the command “What Can I Say?” takes you through the list fairly rapidly.
After practicing various voice commands with the SuperTooth HD, I find the biggest limitation to its abilities lies with the iPhone 4 itself. Voice dialing with the SuperTooth HD relies upon the iPhone’s ability to recognize names and phone numbers. Apple still has some progress to make with the iPhone in this area, for I find it doesn’t do a good job of recognizing your commands.
The SuperTooth HD is a decent along Bluetooth device for anyone wishing to safely make phone calls while driving. I like the aesthetics of the design and the sound qualities of both the speaker and the microphone during calls. Having it mount to your vehicle’s sun-visor is also a nice feature. It is also apparent that the connectivity issues I experienced and the voice recognition system can prove to be a source of frustration. In SuperTooth’s defense, this is an issue that the manufacturers of nearly all voice-recognition systems face. It may also be due to limitations of your cell phone, rather than limitations with the SuperTooth HD itself.
MyMac.com Review Rating: 7 out of 10